The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mitchell Center (10,041) -- Mobile, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: UNT 7-7, USA 9-3. Away Record: UNT 2-10, USA 6-5. Neutral Record: UNT 2-1, USA 0-2. Conference Record: UNT 6-12, USA 12-5. Series Record: South Alabama leads, 13-8.
GAME NOTES: The North Texas Mean Green will try to win three in a row for the first time since mid-November, as they travel to Mobile for a Sun Belt Conference clash with the South Alabama Jaguars.
North Texas' season has been anything but impressive overall, as it sits with an 11-18 record with twice as many losses as wins in conference play (6-12), but it has started to turn things around with triumphs in three of its last four outings. The Mean Green took Florida Atlantic to overtime on Thursday and came out on the positive end of a 66-57 decision.
South Alabama had been winners of four in a row and seven of eight heading into its Thursday night matchup, but it was humbled by first-place Middle Tennessee as it was handed an 85-50 loss. The Jaguars are still enjoying a solid season at 15-10 overall, and their 12-5 league ledger is second-best in the Sun Belt.
North Texas has won four in a row over South Alabama, including a 66-56 decision at home on Jan. 12, but the Jaguars own a 13-8 advantage in the all- time series.
The Mean Green managed to tie the game in the final minute of regulation to force overtime, and they dominated the extra session, 9-0, as they hung on for the tough win against FAU. Roger Franklin narrowly missed a double-double with 20 points and nine rebounds, and while Jordan Williams was awful from the field (3-of-13), he shot 7-of-8 from the foul line and finished with 14 points. Alzee Williams had 10 points, while Tony Mitchell was relegated to a bench role but still had 12 points and four blocks. Despite boasting four of the conference's top-23 scorers, North Texas has not been a quality scoring team this season, as it makes just 41.5 percent of its field goal attempts for 66.6 ppg. Jordan Williams has tallied 20 or more points in five of the last nine games to up his scoring average to a team-high 14.1 ppg. Mitchell is enjoying a fine season as well (13.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.7 bpg), but it's a far cry from what was expected out of the preseason SBC Player of the Year. Franklin (11.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Alzee Williams (10.7 ppg) round out the impressive scoring quartet.
South Alabama found itself down by 13 to Middle Tennessee less than five minutes into its recent matchup and never recovered, as it shot a woeful 28.6 percent from the field in the 35-point blowout defeat. Despite the setback, Augustine Rubit still found time to register his 15th double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Mychal Ammons also netted 13 points, while Trey Anderson played 30 minutes off the bench and made the most of it by recording 11 points and three steals. On the season, the Jaguars score 69.3 ppg while allowing nearly as many points to their opponents (68.4 ppg), but they've been able to prevail in close games with seven wins by five points or less. Rubit is arguably the best big man in the league with averages of 19.4 ppg, 10.7 rpg and 1.3 bpg, all while sporting great percentages from the floor (.492) and the foul line (.783). Ammons chips in 11.2 ppg and 6.8 rpg, while Antoine Allen chips in 9.1 ppg, albeit behind a dismal 31.2 percent shooting effort.
North Texas has the talent to compete with nearly any team in the conference, and it has finally started to play like it in recent weeks. Still, South Alabama's physical brand of play will cause the Mean Green fits, and its stellar home record (9-3) suggests that it'll bounce back from a tough loss earlier in the week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Alabama 69, North Texas 65
02/23 10:43:05 ET